Even though the distillery elves at Australian Gin brand Four Pillars have been socially distancing, they have been checking their list, and it seems that enough of you were ‘nice’ for them to get top work.
And after months of toil, they would like to you to know that while just about everything else has changed this year, their Christmas Gin is right on schedule.
Due to be released at the beginning of November, this will be the fifth annual gin for the distillery. And you could say having a gin that celebrates family and friends and being together, even if only in spirit, has never been more important than this year.
If you are unfamiliar with the Four Pillars Christmas Gin, then it’s important to know that it is the liquid equivalent of a tribute from the brand’s head distiller, Cam Mackenzie to the four things he loves most: Australia, Christmas, gin and his late mum, Wilma.
Each year Wilma would use the 1968 Australian Women’s Weekly recipe to make her puddings on Victoria Derby Day, the Saturday before Melbourne Cup, while the rest of the family watched the races.
On Derby Day 2015, and again on every Derby Day from then on, Cam and his family, joined by the families of fellow co-founders Stu Gregor and Matt Jones, would make puddings to Wilma’s recipe and put them in the botanical basket of Wilma (our still) and distil a gin.
While this year, the Mackenzies, Gregors and Joneses can’t physically be together for now annual tradition, the spirit of Wilma’s pudding making transcends closed borders, and the Christmas gin prep continues with the help of a little friend called Zoom.
Once the Christmas pudding gin was distilled, the guys at Four Pillars turned to our solera of barrel-aged gins. The brand has gin ageing in several 100+-year-old Muscat barrels, including two 125-year-old ex-William Grants whisky barrels that, before arriving at Healesville, stored Rutherglen Muscat for 80 years.
They take the gin distilled with Christmas puddings and blend it with the barrel-aged gin, finishing it with a nip of Classic Rutherglen Muscat to round out the palate and add a touch of richness.
Mackenzie is then known to add a small amount of the brand’s “own” Muscat that is maturing at the distillery in old puncheons that used to hold aged Pedro Ximenez in the Barossa Valley. This extra component adds an additional layer of complexity and richness.
The resulting 43.8%ABV gin smells like gin and tastes like Christmas. Aromatics of classic juniper and a hint of cinnamon backed up with a rich, luscious palate with a hint of sweetness from the Muscat and richness from the extended barrel ageing.
While you can always expect the same level of delicious, Christmassy gin, each year that is perfect for sipping neat or pouring over your pudding, what does change every year is the label.
Each year, the label is a different interpretation of the perfect Austral; Ian Christmas. From warm sunshine and red wine stains to the beautiful, bright Giant Australian Christmas Beetle, to a hot backyard Christmas by the pool to Illawarra Flame Trees in full bloom.
This year, the distillery has collaborated with Melbourne-born and Berlin-based artist Lucy Dyson. Lucy takes objects and turns them into handmade collages full of whimsy detail.
For Four Pillars, Dyson has reimagined the warmth, closeness and togetherness of a traditional Christmas day, albeit in a surreal Australian landscape.
So with Christmas around the corner yet again, take in the fact that even if Christmas is different this year, it can still be great and a little Four Pillars gin will go along way to helping you forget what a peculiar year it has been. Four Pillars Australian Christmas Gin
Limited release available online at fourpillarsgin.com at our homes in Healesville and Surry Hills and in good liquor retailers from October 31, 2020, until sold out.
Now for a few cool cocktails that are perfect to make with this gin, this Christmas
Gin & Ginger
- 45ml Christmas Gin
- 2 dashes bitters
- Ginger beer or ale
Add gin and bitters to a highball glass over ice, squeeze in half a lime and top with ginger beer or ale (your choice!). Drop in the squeezed lime as garnish.
- 30ml Christmas Gin
- 60ml sparkling wine
- 30ml soda water
- 10ml sugar syrup
- Lime leaves
Scoop the pulp of half the passionfruit into a wine glass. Add remaining ingredients over ice and stir well. Garnish with the other passionfruit half and lime leaves.
- 30ml Christmas Gin
- 30ml sweet vermouth
- 30ml Campari
Add gin, Campari and vermouth (use a rose vermouth if you can) to a short glass over ice. Stir well and garnish with a wedge of orange.